Far North Queensland inhabitants have long called for a crocodile cull before any more lives are taken. The federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter, an advocate of salt water crocodile culling said that their numbers had reached unprecedented, epidemic levels.
It has become unsafe for Cape York’s 5000 Aborigines to enter any water for fishing or swimming. In the Torres Strait many inhabitants regularly dive along the coastline capturing lobsters, turtle and dugong.
They have reported a large increase in crocodile numbers at their favourite diving locations and are waiting helplessly for an attack to occur.
In the Bloomfield River 100 klm north of Cairns fishermen report that it is impossible to set any crab pots because the large number of crocs destroy them within hours.
One fisherman, ‘Gobbler’ said he had recently returned from a Bloomfield River fishing trip but was “really worried about the large crocs that now follow boats.”
He said boat ramps too are dangerous for fishermen because the crocs lie in waiting for a boat to be launched.
“One large croc followed my boat for a long way when I was checking the pots and any wrong move with the boat could be fatal because they are not afraid of people,” Gobbler said.
“One is five metres long and aggressive, another is 4m, and two others we saw are 3.5m long, and all are potential man-eaters and all were close to Bloomfield (settlement).
“There are far too many and there should be a cull throughout the north right now before there are more people killed.”
The folly of very expensive croc relocation
It took 400 kilometres and just under a month for a Queensland research team to realise that relocating far north Queensland problem crocodiles was never going to be an option.
Several years ago UQ School of Biological Sciences Professor Craig Franklin and his team translocated three saltwater crocodiles from a remote section of Wenlock River in the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve on the west coast of Cape York to various remote locations along the west coast.
Tiny Tim, a male crocodile involved in Professor Franklin’s latest research, detected on Thursday, September 10, 2015, north of Weipa. Photo: Supplied
The aim was to to track their movements and determine if relocation would be a good management strategy for crocodiles who continuously come into contact with humans or livestock.
Two of the crocodiles were released up to 80 kilometres away, along the west coast of Cape York, with one carried via helicopter 400 kilometres to a remote beach on the east coast of Cape York.
This crocodile, which weighed about 350 kilograms and measured 4.5 metres, shocked Professor Franklin’s team at the time by swimming over 400 kilometres around the tip of Cape York in less than 20 days to return home.
A relocated 350kg crocodile swam 400km to get home. Photo: Terry Trewin
This feat not only destroyed any notion of relocating problem crocodiles found in far north Queensland, it also proved, for the first time, that crocodiles use currents to travel long distances, Professor Franklin said.
“When we translocated it from the west coast of Cape York to the East Coast, it didn’t go straight back home, it waited around for several months,” he said.
“It was the first time anyone had shown that crocodiles use currents to travel.
“If they are travelling long distances in river systems they will use tidal movement in and out of the river to facilitate their travel.”
Unfortunately this has meant other more invasive methods have been put in place to manage problem crocodiles.
“If there is a problem animal likely to impact humans or livestock, then the government’s Department of Environment makes all attempts to try and catch that animal and then place it into a farm or zoo; try to find some place that will take it,” Professor Franklin said.
“If they are unable to capture it, they are able to make the decisions to shoot the animal, but they try not to do that.
“In terms of the population, it makes very little difference whether the animal is moved or shot, because its ability to reproduce (in the wild) has been lost.
Professor Franklin’s team has been tagging and tracking crocodiles ever since in a bid to better understand these apex predators.
Cape Alumina project scrapped
In another cynical, self-preservation announcement the government stopped the proposed Cape Alumina bauxite project dead in its tracks this week after the (Steve) Irwin family pressured the Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney to halt the $1 billion development on environmental grounds.
Although Cape Alumina had no intention of mining anywhere near the Wenlock river which flows through Bertiehaugh pastoral holding held by the Irwins, 200 klms north east of Weipa, Newman could see the positive environmental spin it would generate for the LNP amongst the Brisbane chardonnay set at the next election.
Cairns News has no doubt the Irwins’ will be campaigning for the LNP in the south east corner come next election, mooted in August.
The wider collateral damage has not yet been evaluated however the decision will directly cut 1700 jobs, further entrench the reliance of local indigenous groups on the welfare sponge and set back the Cape York economy many years.
In yet another blow to the Far North, Rio Tinto at Weipa yesterday announced it was placing its $1b South of Embley expansion on the back burner for a further 12 months.
In today’s Cairns Post, Warren Entsch, the Liberal Member for Leichardt which takes in Cape York Peninsula, launched a scathing attack on the State Government for shutting down mining on the Peninsula.
Entsch attacked the Irwin’s for having prior knowledge of the government’s rebuke and for campaigning against the project which was in place before they were gifted the $6.3m Bertiehaugh station by the former Federal Labor Government.
“Terry and Bindi Irwin had enough notice to travel to Brisbane so they could stand beside Campbell Newman for the announcement,” an angry Warren Entsch said.
He said he was shocked there had been no consultation with himself, the Mapoon Shire Council, Cook Shire Council or Cape Alumina itself.
Mr Entsch said this decision sends a very bad message about development in Queensland.
CMC Committee sacked
The wheels are starting to come off the LNP Government wagon after this week’s desperate manoeuvres by Premier Campbell Newman to gain control of the anti-crime watchdog, the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
The Parliamentary CMC watchdog committee was sacked by the Attorney General Jerrod Bleije after its Chairman, Independent MP Elizabeth Cunningham criticised its interim chairman, Ken Levy allegedly for making a false statement before the committee.
Amid much public controversy, a new committee was appointed yesterday with a majority of government members.